I left off when we were packing ourselves for a few days in Phuket. It actually resulted from a trip Su organized for her parents four if not five years ago. Her mother suggested that I would like the place; and so we found ourselves basking under the Phuket sun, going to beaches, and staying in a top class hotel drinking champagne and seeping whiskey. We also went snorkeling a bit, that is almost every day.
Su tried to make me learn diving and snorkeling shortly after we were married. She took me first to Koh Samui and taught me how to put on the mask and the tube. All I could remember was that I took in plenty of sea water. Then she signed me up on a crash diving course on the cruise to Tahiti, which was also our honeymoon cruise. The instructor grounded me on operational grounds and gave us full refund. I was so relieved. Somehow, I managed to learn snorkeling before I left the boat; or maybe I learned it on the Fiji trip which followed shortly afterwards. I recall I wrote a few pieces on the experience; and that was long before I learned to ski, some eight or nine years now.
Su keeps a good collection of books on diving and can name many species of fish and sea creatures. Her sister is also a keen diver and had posted colourful pictures from her diving trips, but Su has stopped diving since Fiji. Indeed, she might need to have her equipment recalibrated or get on some refresher courses before she can safely go diving again. Snorkeling therefore is a convenient back-up.
Back to Phuket, we stayed in a hotel just over an hour drive from the airport, but which is very close to some good beaches for snorkeling, but which were not crowded. It is interesting that most of the passengers on our flight were non-Asians. It appears that Asians, and Hong Kong people in particular, these days are more interested in Japan, Korea or Taiwan for short getaways. We call them good beaches because even at depths of one to 2 metres, we could see very rich and colourful aquatic life in abundance. Su said that normally such sights are only available to divers; so it was a rare treat.
It was an early summer idyll; and life is simple and tranquil. One may ask what one would get after seeing all those fishes swimming back and forth in schools, the star fishes, the corals, the sea anemones, and many more unknown yet so beautiful species in such great numbers. There may be no one answer to the rhetorical question, for it is for the individual to decide what one wants to pick up in life, from where and with whom. But my simple mind would say they are all manifestation of Nature’s immeasurable scope, diversity and expanse, and ultimately the inestimable power, majesty and glory of the Creator and Judge of everything on Earth.
Outside water, it can get rather hot. Moreover, the rather intense ultra violet rays quickly make their marks on the body. We were both roundly sun tanned and scotched. In addition, I had plenty of insect bites all over the body, mainly on the limbs. Su said that it was because I stayed in the shallow waters too long.
It was a tiring trip for the body, but somewhat refreshing for the mind and spirit. My head-band broke in the last ten minutes of the last snorkeling trip, but as soon as we woke up the morning after from our bed, Su booked another trip, in a much cheaper hotel just next to her favourite beach. Meanwhile, partying continued. Lest we lost count of what happened in the month of partying, here are the parties I would mention.
We went to one the day after we were back from Phuket, organized by my young friends, most of whom were Rotaractors I came across some 20 to 25 years ago. Indeed, we had commissioned the leader of the group – shall I call her JK to preserve her anonymity – to organize one of the wedding parties nine years ago. We gave JK full power to invite whom she wanted to invite from the Rotary community, but rather unfairly to her, without reminding her that she would take responsibility for that, so that years later even to date, to those who ask why they were not invited to our wedding, my reply was still because JK did not invite them. It was a very well attended party held in a venue in Causeway Bay one of the owners of which is the designer of Su’s wedding dress, but who has since become her personal friend. The food was great and the bubblies and whiskey flowed on while the young people took photos and selfies to their hearts’ delight. Perhaps the best part was that the young friends were all enjoying themselves and had a great time.
The following Wednesday, a friend threw a lunch party and brought in two bottles of 35 years old whiskey thus making up the magic number of 70. I have only known this guy for some three years, but we have become very good friends, so much so that because he couldn’t come to any of the dinners organized in the name of my birthday, he insisted to have a lunch and invited some very good friends, including one who was in the process of organizing a big party to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. I had a great time, but had to restrain myself because I need to play a part at a Masonic meeting that evening.
Then came the big dinner party. We were thoroughly embarrassed by the generosity of the people attending with their thoughtful and expensive gifts and good wishes. I was lost for words when they asked me to say something before dinner began, but I recall this. I said that none of them were at our wedding party, primarily because neither of us had not known most of them for that long, but it appeared that the chemistry developed between us would likely last our friendship for some time not only bilaterally, but more importantly and significantly, between each other multilaterally. Towards the end of the party, Andrew Kuet – I had to name him for the record and to thank him – volunteered to be the Convener of a party to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary; and everyone at the time said they were looking forward to that.
There are other lunches and dinners, including a dinner for four organized by a mentee, other lunches and dinners during which celebratory messages were invoked, and not forgetting a lunch between my close Masonic brethren during which we also celebrated the birthday of a younger brother and which both his wife and Su also attended. Su also helped organize the venue and the menu. I must mention two more before I signed off. One took place last night in which nine attended, including Su and me. These are from my Rotary family of old, nearly 20 years ago, and all agreed to re-connect and have more parties organized involving more people. The last one I would mention for now is the one that would take place tomorrow evening; and I would talk to you later, including sharing some thoughts on parties in general and these recent parties in particular.